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Dealing with Pascal’s Wager on Life After Death

Posted on 25 October 2021, 9:03

“We all die,” is the subject line of a recent email sent by the Secular Student Alliance. The message following the subject line urges members to leave a donation – a legacy – that will make the world a better place for others.  It goes on to say that the “legacy gift is a charitable vision that serves as a permanent force for good for generations of nonreligious youth to come.”  The home page of the organization says it is the largest atheist, humanist, and non-theist organization in the United States. Its goals are to empower secular students to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values and set a course for lifelong activism. A photo of a dozen or so joyous, liberated young faces is shown – liberated, of course, from the fetters of religions imposed upon them by parents and their culture. They appear totally elated in their nihilistic mindset.

My first thought upon seeing the photo was to wonder if they will have the same joyous smiles in 40 or 50 years, when their loved ones and friends start dying off and when they, too, are so in decline that they struggle to visualize the abyss of nothingness they have imagined not far ahead.  But they aren’t supposed to think that far ahead.  Eat, drink, shop, play with electronic toys, have sex, escape into fantasyland with fiction, be merry, and thoroughly enjoy the moment is the philosophy instilled in them by Hollywood, the advertising industry, and the secularist worldview.

Most of those I have met or whose comments I have read on the internet seem locked into an angry god and a monotonous heaven. If they’ve heard anything about the strong evidence suggesting that consciousness survives death in a greater reality, absent an angry God and angels singing praise, they’ve checked with Wikipedia and discovered that it is all just so much bunk.  “I believe in science,” they haughtily shout, echoing “all-knowing” college professors who have helped them overcome the “false” teachings of their parents. “If you can’t replicate it, it’s fake.”  They ask for proof, not really understanding the difference between proof and evidence or realizing that such evidence is not going to reach absolute certainty. (See prior blog on the question of absolute certainty.) 

When told by the prime movers of secularism that life is all about making life better for future generations, they don’t stop to think about what “better” means. Is there a point at which life will be as it was for Nero, who fiddled as Rome burned?  To which generation full fruition? How much more comfortable and rewarding can we make things for future generations?  To what end the progeny? Why is it that I see so many older people on the internet yearning for a return to the lifestyles of the 1950s? 

You’d think the young nihilists would at least buy into Pascal’s Wager, which, in effect, says that if you can’t prove that God exists, you are better off betting that “He” does exist.  That wager, offered by seventeenth-century philosopher Blaise Pascal, holds that God and an afterlife are concomitants; that is, if there is a God, there must be an afterlife and that such an afterlife must be superior to the material life and to extinction.  So many people, both religious and non-religious, approach it deductively, figuring they require proof of God before accepting an afterlife, rather than taking an inductive approach by first examining the evidence for an afterlife and then looking for the God behind it all.

The Fear of Death

The young secularists, atheists, humanists, materialists, rationalists, nihilists, whatever label they prefer, should ponder on the story of John von Neumann (1903-1957), a Hungarian-born American mathematician, physicist, engineer, computer whiz, and overall a polymath and genius.  An internet search reveals that he was a professor of mathematics at Princeton, wrote extensively on quantum mechanics, was involved with the Manhattan Project in producing the atomic bomb, and was a pioneer in computer technology.  He was born into a Jewish family, one with “ambivalent” religious attitudes. He made a nominal conversion to Catholicism to satisfy his first wife, but continued with an agnostic belief system.  He was divorced in 1937.  Hans Bethe, a Nobel Laureate, is quoted as saying, “I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann’s does not indicate a species superior to that of man.”

After being diagnosed with bone or pancreatic cancer in 1956, Neumann (below) is said to have expressed great fear of death. He despaired to some visitors that “he could not visualize a world which did not include himself thinking within it.”  He began having frequent visits from Father Anselm Strittmatter, a Catholic priest, telling the priest that he sided with Pascal and opted for a belief in God over extinction or, as the Church might have preached, eternal damnation. In spite of the visits, his great fear of death continued to his earthly end.

neumann

As William James, (below) one of the founders of modern psychology, put it: “The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well – morality suffices.  But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.”

wjames1

It has been my observation that the pillars of humanism erode and crumble as one ages. “Living in the moment,” which is what humanists advocate, is much more difficult as they see themselves nearing “extinction” or “obliteration.”  The escape mechanisms they have used to repress the idea of death simply don’t work like they did when they were in their young adult years and so occupied with establishing themselves in careers and raising a family – when there was little or no time to do any real deep thinking about what life is all about and what might or might not come after.  When the grandchild gets her tongue pierced, her hair dyed purple, and a full sleeve of tattoos, doubts about progressive progeny enter the mind and the legacy comes into question. It’s when loved ones and friends start dying that the crumbling really accelerates. Finally, when the terminal prognosis is given, the complete collapse takes place.

Humanism to Hedonism

There is much to be said for “living in the moment,” “living in the now,” “living in the present,” “living for today,” “carpe diem,” however it is worded.  But so many young people seem to interpret that to mean “have fun at any cost.”  Moreover, they do not appear to make a distinction between fun and happiness.  Without a moral compass, they don’t know where to draw the line between humanism and hedonism, between self-discipline and self-gratification. They opt for short-term pleasure seeking over long-term peace of mind.

The problem with Pascal’s Wager, as I see it, is that the focus is on a belief in God rather than a belief in an afterlife.  It is much easier to come up with evidence for consciousness surviving death than for the existence of God. Pascal lived before the evidence for survival was being thoroughly examined by esteemed scholars and scientists. Unfortunately, the nihilists still assume that one must fully identify and prove God before giving any credibility to the evidence supporting survival, and since God is apparently beyond human comprehension they never get to the real evidence. 

One would think that a man of Neumann’s intellect might have examined some of the evidence and would have made a distinction between believing in a Higher Power and consciousness surviving death in a greater reality, but indications are that he bought into the possibility that a non-belief in God meant eternal damnation, as taught by some denominations, and that was his primary reason for going with Pascal’s Wager.  I doubt that his belief or non-belief had much of an effect on him after leaving the physical body, other than possibly a slower merging of the lower consciousness with the higher consciousness and thus a slower awakening to the greater reality. As Professor James put it: “If religion be a function by which either God’s cause or man’s cause is to be really advanced, then he who lives the life of it, however narrowly, is a better servant than he who merely knows about it, however much. Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life with its dynamic currents passing through your being is another.” 

I don’t blame the secular students for rejecting religions that teach a wrathful God and a humdrum heaven. Why take Pascal’s Wager if it means curbing an Epicurean lifestyle only to spend eternity floating around on clouds, strumming harps, and praising God twenty-four-seven?  And why spend this life doing nothing but preparing for the next life? But that is not what I interpret from the psychical research and related studies being ignored by both orthodox religion and mainstream science.  The research and studies suggest a much more dynamic afterlife, one that gives meaning to this life while providing that moral compass. I lament the fact that the secular students have been kept from this knowledge by both religion and science and feel their future anguish – when those smiling faces on the website turn to distress and torture, further condemning God because “He” permits such suffering.

To end by again quoting Professor James:

“The luster of the present hour is always borrowed from the background of possibilities it goes with.  Let our common experiences be enveloped in an eternal moral order; let our suffering have an immortal significance; let Heaven smile upon the earth, and deities pay their visits; let faith and hope be the atmosphere which man breathes in; and his days pass by with zest; they stir with prospects, they thrill with remoter values.  Place around them on the contrary the curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular-science evolutionism of our time are all that is visible ultimately, and the thrill stops short, or turns rather to an anxious trembling.”

It might take secular students a few decades to grasp all that and thereby avoid the trembling, but I fear that it will be too late for some of them to change course.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

Next blog post:  November 8  


Comments

How come the youth of today are eager to buy climate change with very little evidence but scoff at any form of religion. We have way more evidence for God when compared to the climate myth. Quite simply one is fashionable and trendy, follow my leader.

Gavinb Doyle, Thu 11 Nov, 15:13

Newton,

You point out a problem that has long bothered me. The afterlife apparently glimpsed by NDEers is usually very much more pleasant and joyful than that often described in mediumistic communications.

A few thoughts on this. The most likely possibility seems to me to be that perhaps mediumistic communications are usually severely “colored” by the personalities and culturally conditioned preconceptions of the mediums, the teachings that they have read and been otherwise exposed to, to the extent that their descriptions are also severely “colored”. Perhaps the NDE accounts of experiences need to be given somewhat more weight than the mediumistic communications because the NDEs are after all first-hand descriptions of actual experiences as opposed to second-hand descriptions from supposed discarnate entities being communicated through mediums. And there are some channeled afterlife descriptions that are more in accordance with the typical deep NDE accounts, the one coming first to mind being the teachings of Ron Scolastico’s Guides.

Another possibility might be that most NDEs are deliberately made by the souls to greatly emphasize the “love and light” aspects of the afterlife, because that is what the NDEer typically needs at that crisis point in his life, in order to fully realize that his ultimate transcendence of the physical world’s suffering is absolutely assured.

Of course the possibility also exists that this disparity indicates that the typical NDE experience is mostly hallucinogenic and generated by deep levels of the unconscious mind in response to unconscious (or conscious) hopes and desires. This option doesn’t seem very palatable and flies in the face of the manifold evidences of the reality of the experiences, especially in the many veridical aspects, and the fact that the content of many or most NDEs seems to be mostly independent of cultural/social preconceptions such as religious affiliation.

David Magnan, Sun 7 Nov, 21:50

Dear all,

I have now watched one of the videos Amos drew our attention to, and it is highly impressive, and very reassuring.

The first part of the lady’s account describes precisely and in detail being in another universe contiguous with ours, one which allows one solid body, being in that ‘other’ universe, to pass through another solid body that is in our present universe, and this is precisely what my paper on the relevance of Relativity Theory describes.

But Amos has REFUSED to read my paper, almost everyone else ignores it, and few of those who have read it understand it. (But a WORLD-KNOWN Cambridge mathematician and logician has read it and says I handle a difficult subject well.)

It is undeniable FACT that the lady in Amos’s recommended video describes exactly the situation I believe I substantiate in the paper. So why does Amos reject my paper without reading it, and why does he dismiss my account in Maureen’s book as containing no evidence of continued life after a real this-cosmos “death”.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 7 Nov, 18:18

Amos gives us links to records of some NDEs that he describes as “from the horse’s mouth”, but I notice he still makes no response to my proofs of the irrationality of his attitude to the account I give in Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’. I shall assume that I am not thought by any of Mike Tymn’s readers to be a blatant liar. Amos, and all of you, may therefore like to know that the account I give which Amos so obviously dismisses and despises is “from the horse’s mouth”. I am the dizzy horse. The Bible claims that Balaam’s ass spoke. Perhaps Amos will now permit me to speak as honestly as if on oath (as I always do in any case), and allow me to be believed. I am the horse. The brother who died is my brother Colin David Franklin, born Coventry, England, 13 November 1945, left this universe for another one (I trust a lot more intellectually honest than this one) about 9.20 - 9.40 pm, 28 November 2007.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 7 Nov, 17:04

What especially interests me about NDEs is not their pointing to an afterlife (which I assume) but rather their apparent differences in describing that afterlife when juxtaposed with, for example, “Spirit Teachings.” In most NDE accounts (although there are those darker experiences, likely underreported) the overall impression conveyed by the NDEr is that the afterlife is one huge blast of joy and peace and love and connection. Even the life review is essentially an “upper” despite one’s having to experience the harm to others one has caused. On the other hand, the afterlife portrayed in “Spirit Teachings” is, while sublimely beautiful, a much, shall we say, tougher, sharper-edged, more purgatorial place, with a lot of karma having to work itself out and much “time” and effort involved in working one’s way up to the higher realms of bliss. (Keith P. has an excellent YouTube video on “Spirit Teachings” which gets into a bit of this). I realize that the NDE provides only a glimpse of the afterlife, little more, yet is that glimpse fully, or even substantially, in accord with revered mediumistic teachings? This thread is ending, so I’ll pick up these questions later, but I thought it useful to fill the swimming pool a bit before diving in.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 7 Nov, 16:35

David,
Here are two of my favorite websites for NDEs.  They are from Germany but many of them have English translations.  I an not necessarily recommending the NDE reports for which I provided a link but they might be representative of the quality of the videos provided on those two websites.  I prefer NDE reports such as found in these two websites as they are directly from the ‘horses mouth’ so to speak and the quality is very good.  I have watched many of the NDE accounts on these sites.  There is some duplication coming from the same person, many of whom have written a book about their experience. But overall, I find these people to be very believable in reporting what they experienced.  I find it difficult to discount these reports primarily due to the deep emotions expressed by many of those people (even the men) while retelling their experience even though it might have happened many years ago.  - AOD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2whJPweTkQ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jyu35n9SnU

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 7 Nov, 13:54

AOD: “NDEs taken alone do not provide conclusive evidence of life after death.” I agree, but I think the NDE phenomenon is a more important and powerful body of evidence than you seem to think it is.

I go along with Kelly, Greyson and Stevenson in their 2000 paper, “Can experiences near death furnish evidence of life after death?” (Omega, 40, 513-519), where they surveyed the NDE phenomenon and concluded that it constitutes strong evidence for survival of physical death. The accumulation since then of more and more investigated and verified veridical cases (as documented for instance in The Self Does Not Die) has only made this conclusion stronger in the intervening years. This volume documents over 100 reliable, often firsthand accounts of perceptions during NDEs that were later verified as accurate by independent sources.

In their paper Kelly, Greyson and Stevenson enumerate the features of NDEs that make alternative materialistic explanations very difficult as:

“...enhanced mental processes at a time when physiological functioning is seriously impaired; the experience of being out of the body and viewing events going on around as from a position above; and the awareness of remote events not accessible to the person’s ordinary senses.”

Of course it is true that for the most part the veridical NDE evidence is technically not for a permanent afterlife existence but for the persistence of an enhanced consciousness when the body, in particular the brain, is in a moribund dysfunctional state. This is completely contrary to the assumptions of materialist scientism, implies the existence of some sort of soul or spirit, and shows that this at least for the time surviving consciousness includes paranormal perceptions. This all strongly implies an afterlife existence and supports the other main areas of evidence including reincarnation memories and mediumistic communications.

David Magnan, Sun 7 Nov, 00:36

Tom asked about a medium Charles Miller, called a fraud by Charles Richet. Regretfully, I know nothing about this person.  I checked Richet’s book, “30 Years” and found reference to a “Miller” with no first name given, but there is not enough information about him to know if we are talking about the same person or even if he was deemed a cheat. I have the Reichel book somewhere in my library, but I can’t find it right now.

Many mediums were judged frauds, even by experienced investigators who simply viewed the phenomena from the materialistic standpoint. 

Some of the those studying Eusapia Palladino suggested that her ‘third arm’, an ectoplasmic extension molded by her spirit control, known as ‘John King’, was carrying out the activity which some saw as fraud.  Moreover, some of the investigators reported on ‘rhythmic actions’ of her fingers, arms and legs that were in accord with activity taking place some distance from her, apparently through the invisible or mostly invisible ectoplasmic rods extending from her limbs to the point of activity, as if she, or the spirit controlling her, had become puppet masters of sorts. ‘When Professor Oscar Scarpa held Palladino’s feet in his hands, he always felt her legs moving in synchrony with ongoing displacements of the table or chair,’ reported Professor Filippo Bottazi, who referred to the action as ‘synchrony.’ 

The May and June 1926 issues of the ASPR Journal carried articles (Parts I and II) by Dr Karl Gruber, a German physician, biologist, and zoologist, reporting on his research of the physical mediumship of Willie and Rudi Schneider. His report included the ‘synchronous movements’ between the medium and objects out of the medium’s reach. ‘If this connection is broken by movements of the hand or other object across the field of activity, or if it is roughly torn away, either temporary or lasting bodily injury to the medium results,’ Gruber stated, noting that his research involved more than one-hundred experiments. ‘This fact has been repeatedly misunderstood by the skeptical, who have seen in it the unmasking of a frightened medium.’ 

Indications are that Mina Crandon, aka Margery, was deemed a fraud by Drs. Rhine and Dingwall because they saw movement by her at the same time something was happening at a distance out of her reach. Dingwall saw her mouth move at the same time the Walter materialization laughed, while Rhine saw movement of her leg at the time something was happening at a distance from her. Neither seems to have been aware of the “synchrony” aspect reported by Gruber and Bottazzi. Houdini also based his conclusion of fraud on movement by Margery that might very well have been a sychronous movement.

There were clearly frauds posing as mediums, but it is clear to me that many genuine mediums were deemed frauds because the researchers simply didn’t understand what was going on and were applying terrestrial standards to matters they knew nothing about.  This might have been the case with Miller.

Michael Tymn, Sat 6 Nov, 18:46

Amos,

I think I have to be pedantic again and remind you that the effect of dizziness that man suffered at the very time his brother died IS NOT an NDE. His brother DID actually die so it CANNOT be a NEAR-death event, can it? - and the dizziness occurred within MINUTES AFTER AFTER AFTER AFTER THE MOMENT OF DEATH (and the dizziness was NOT caused by food poisoning because another who ate the same meal at the same time suffered nothing at all) and the dizziness came FOUR HOURS AFTER the meal. Wake up, Amos. Also the chance of the coincidence in time being a matter of random chance (actually there’s no such thing as random chance for an all-knowing God, is there? (“random chance” is what WE don’t know enough to explain) but that’s a further matter you might not understand) is far less than one in 41,760.

Please, for your own sake, wake up and be more rational. Weigh the evidence, the probabilities. You have a better mind than than should be publishing the weak and irrational comments you are currently posting.

I am VERY sorry to have to say such things. I suppose I feel a bit like the apostle Paul, feeling he was forced by recalcitrant people to boast when writing the second letter to the Corinthians, but I cannot ignore comments that do not even acknowledge the simple FACTS of the case but deny the facts outright and then merely make empty contrary assertions. Look at the EVIDENCE.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 6 Nov, 18:07

Ah, Newton,
You said what I dared not say.  I hope there is more original research in the Bigelow essays (all of course contained in 28,000 words) than was presented in the Mishlove essay with multiple embedded videos all in total provided under copyright. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 6 Nov, 16:54

Thanks David, for the link. What I didn’t know is the period between reincarnation in Western cases (about 35 years) differs strongly with Asiatic cases (about 18 months). It is remarkable that most Asiatic religions think that reincarnation is most normal while in Western religions it is not. Maybe we can conclude that what you think and believe when you die , can be of great influence on your afterlife experience.

Chris, Sat 6 Nov, 15:13

Apt Patience quote, AOD! Great minds, incarnate and discarnate, think alike, referring not to me, of course, but to Schweitzer in the flesh and Patience. On the Bigelow thing, I’ll be interested to see whether any award-winning essayist did more than effectively present the existing evidence for the afterlife, which has been out there a long time and yet hasn’t moved mainstream science beyond a few (though an increasing few) of its more adventurous minds. I feared when the contest was structured that it would lead to nothing essentially NEW. Let’s hope my fear was unfounded.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 6 Nov, 15:07

Michael,
I now see that your win was a greater accomplishment that it might seem on the surface.  Without a support staff, university or other organization’s resources and graduate students to help you write, organize, edit and illustrate your essay you came in fourth.  Congratulations again Michael. That was a great achievement!  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 6 Nov, 13:46

Amos,

Will you please wake up and read me properly? Have I not said or implied many times that (quote) “there is no such thing as a scientific proof”, but there IS such a thing as sufficient reason to take one view rather than another on the basis of the evidence available? ALL science is like that, falling short of absolute proof (even the “atomic theory”), and I cited two famous sets of experiments as instances (Tonomura 1986 and Aspect 1982). And it is at least thirty years since I read Ian Stevenson, and I have also read Erlendur Haraldsson and others. I am NOT a first year science (or logic!) student.

You have REFUSED to read my paper on Relativity and its relevance to the matter of other universes and possible survival, so why do you think I should heed what you say now? Wake up, Amos. You are dangerously showing your prejudices, and your ignorance of certain matters. Wake up!

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 6 Nov, 09:53

Many thanks to those who have commented here and also sent emails relative to the Bigelow essay contest.  I will be discussing that contest in my blog for Monday.

Michael Tymn, Sat 6 Nov, 07:34

Michael E. Tymn I am a long-term fan of your books. I want to ask you about a medium I have not seen you mention though.

Charles Miller a materialization medium is mentioned in Willie Reichel book An Occultist’s Travels as being very talented but Charles Richet dismissed Miller as a fraud.

I would like to know can you do an article on the case?! I read look out for your blog posts every month but this is the first time I have commented. Regards.

tom mellish, Fri 5 Nov, 23:39

Eric,
The question is not whether or no NDEs are “real”.  By the large number of such reports, NDEs are real; people do experience them.  The question to be answered is, “Do NDEs provide evidence of survival of human consciousness after death of the physical form?”  In and of themselves, they do not!  Like Ian Stevenson’s past life reports they only provide information ‘suggestive’ of survival.  Obviously, the people who experienced an NDE were not actually dead! Many or all of their cells were still alive or viable. They all returned to the world of the living to tell a tale of tunnels, lights, etheric beings and landscapes. Often in effect the experience caused life changing directions in those who reported them.

NDEs taken alone do not provide conclusive evidence of life after death.  However, NDEs when combined with information from past life recall by children under 5 years old, spirit communications through mediums providing verifiable information from deceased persons, and reports of people claiming to actually see and hear spirit entities—-taken together, NDEs gain in strength as possibly reliable pieces of evidence suggesting survival of consciousness after death of a physical form.  NDEs are real without a doubt.  Whether or not they provide evidence of survival is a question that has not yet been answered. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 5 Nov, 21:32

Newton,
As a follow-along to Imperator’s views of creeds derived from reading the Bible and how they might differ depending on how one picked and chose Biblical passages upon which to base one’s religious philosophy, I would add the thoughts of Patience Worth who as you know had the ability to condense religious concepts into a few poetic sentences.  Here is what she had to say on March 15, 1920:


“Man is a trickster.  Behold, he findeth the bone of truth and setteth up for to supply flesh with which to resurrect it.  Aye and he announceth it a creed!

Show me a man’s creed and I will show you his ain reflection.  If he be fat his creed be fat; if he be lean even so.  Many a monk whose beads hid beneath his belly’s arch hath prated o’ spirit.  Aye, and the phantom he prated o’ had beads hid aneath its belly’s arch!” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 5 Nov, 19:31

Heartfelt congratulations, Michael! I hope your essay will soon be available to peruse.

The only one I have been able to find so far is the top winner’s, by Jeffrey Mishlove. This is at https://www.nonlocalmind.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Jeff-Mishlove-Essay-for-Bigelow-Institute.pdf . I think it is very good, but with one to me major deficiency - he somewhat shortchanges the veridicality of many NDEs as one of the biggest areas of well investigated empirical evidence.

For instance, it would have been good if he had referenced The Self Does Not Die by Rivas, Dirven and Smit, which exhaustively documents many investigated and confirmed veridical cases.

David Magnan, Fri 5 Nov, 18:15

Congratulations Michael!

I very much look forward to reading your essay. I always knew you would win a prize, as not only are you a great writer, you also have a very sharp mind.

If only you lived in Canada you would get to keep 100% of your winnings (but we get taxed to death on our income, plus our goods and service tax, so it would have evened out).

Lee

Lee, Fri 5 Nov, 16:10

Dear all,

In fact I was watching the “wrong” video: Newton intended us to watch not the Yale lecture (though I am sure he would also approve of it) but Dale Allison discussing the historical Jesus with Paul Williams, (which also I have just watched) and that video is extremely interesting, as Newton said. It confirms my belief that ‘God’ does not expect any person to study very UNCERTAIN AND COMPLEX matters of scholarly opinion before saving us from ultimate perpetual non-existence. Indeed, such scholarship is almost irrelevant to that question. God CANNOT be that unjust, or he would have destroyed himself (let alone us) quite a while ago (see my paper on Relativity and the life in what we call a spirit cosmos). But the most interesting part of the Allison-Williams discussion is the last few minutes, where both participants agree that theologians must begin to take notice of NDEs and the like. That part of the discussion confirms my contention that we must be more scientific than most of us are. If our immortality is truly a fact it is a fact that science, at least in principle, can and ought to corroborate. Allison and Williams imply that it is now beginning to be obvious that theology must strive for its own continued relevance in theological matters themselves(!) if we are to find assurance for our personal far futures. They concede that NDEs and related phenomena are real. The relevance of honest, reverent, careful science is therefore beginning to become established, whether sceptics such as Rick Darby and Amos Doyle and their ilk agree or not, and whether they allow it to be said in the comments on Mike Tymn’s stimulating blogs or not.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 5 Nov, 14:04

Dear all,

(though Rick Darby and Amos Doyle will probably not want to read my comment (I make no counter-comment)),

The Yale lecture for which Newton provides the URL is very interesting, and seems to ring true. It answers doubts and questions I had, but dared not voice, as a very timid and terrified child of about nine or ten, when my family read the whole Bible studiously every single year, indeed, the New Testament twice a year. I think the Yale professor (I have not yet noted his name) is right, and Newton is right to draw our attention to it. Thank you, Newton.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 5 Nov, 12:00

For those with an hour to spare and a curiosity about that liberal/progressive version of Christianity I talk about, here’s a video interview of a top-tier NT scholar. At the end of the interview, he gets into NDEs and other paranormal experiences, and it turns out he’s currently authoring a book that will deal with these subjects. I doubt whether Princeton’s Dale Allison is familiar with Michael’s work, the voluminous older psychical research related therein, but he would IMHO welcome it, learn from it, and embrace much of it. I hope a few of Michael’s readers will take the time to expose themselves to the kind of rational, non-dogmatic Christianity anticipated by Imperator and embodied in Dale Allison and his colleagues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNm0D0I5gdQ

Newton E. Finn, Thu 4 Nov, 21:49

Congratulations Michael!  You certainly deserve the recognition after a lifetime of study.  When will the papers be released to the public? I hope you have retained the copywrite. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 3 Nov, 17:01

Congrats to Michael! Can’t wait to read his essay! And as far as your question, AOD, I’m 100% in agreement with Imperator. That’s precisely why I wrote and published “Life of Truth.” But it, too, is MY take on the gospels and what I believe lay behind them. As I quoted Schweitzer at the beginning of the booklet: “There is no historical task which so reveals a man’s true self as the writing of a Life of Jesus.” He wrote his famous “Quest of the Historical Jesus,” as I wrote my little alternative gospel, in full recognition of that fact. When you think about it, what Imperator said about our subjective understanding of the bible is true of many, many other things—perhaps ALL things, in some sense, other than (arguably)  mathematics. But while most everything is a “take,” there are still better “takes” than others—for instance, on Patience Worth—are there not?

Newton E. Finn, Wed 3 Nov, 15:28

Michael…

Third/Fourth…When you reach my age, one of the first things to go is the ability to count!

Either way, a marvelous achievement…

Don Porteous, Wed 3 Nov, 14:23

Congratulations Mike! Out of a 1000 + applicants that’s pretty good. I think you came fourth fair and square, otherwise the list would be in alphabetical order.

Jon, Wed 3 Nov, 14:18

Don,

Thank you for the recognition.  While the amount is correct, it was not third place.  I’m listed fourth, but I don’t know if there is any particular order among the runner-ups. The complete list of winners can be seen at
https://www.bigelowinstitute.org/News4.php

Michael Tymn, Wed 3 Nov, 11:06

Congratulations,Michael. I bet that the recognition and appreciation is more important for you than the dollarprice. Well earned!

Chris, Wed 3 Nov, 11:00

OT…

For those who may not have seen it…some major congratulations are due to our host…

Michael Tymn has been announced as a third-place winner…$50,000…in the Bigelow contest!

Very sincere kudos Mike—richly deserved!!!

Don Porteous, Tue 2 Nov, 22:51

Eric Franklin,

Thanks for explaining The Truth to us ignorant dweebs while demonstrating your unparalleled debating skills on every thread.

Now that you’ve taught us to look at (your) reality straight on, perhaps you might rest your case for awhile. But I calculate a probability of less than 1 in 41,760 that you will.

Rick Darby, Tue 2 Nov, 21:34

Newton,
You have quoted ‘Imperator’ several times on this blog and I wonder what you think of Imperator’s comments regarding interpretations of Biblical text. In Stainton Moses’ book, “Spirit Teachings” on pages 64 and 65 of the printing I have, Imperator says the following:


“The truth was not less true because two men of varying minds viewed it from different points, and dealt with it, each in his own way. . . . . Hence it is that man may find in the Bible the reflex of his own mind whatever the tone of that mind may be.  The knowledge of God is so small; that which man has grasped of His nature is so little, that each person who lives on past revelations, and cannot or will not extend them, must find in the Bible the reflex of his mind.  He goes to find his own ideal, and lo! It is mirrored for him in the utterances of those who spoke for persons on his mental plane.  If no one seer can satisfy his ideal, he selects from many the points which please him, rejects the remainder, and manufactures his own revelation piecemeal.  So it is with all sects.  Each frames its own ideal, and proves it by revelations taken from the Bible.  None can accept the whole, because the whole is not homogeneous.  But each picks out its suitable pieces, and from them frames its revelation.  When they are brought face to face with others who have picked out other passages, then comes the twisting and distorting of words, the explanation (so they call it) and the commenting on text:  the darkening of plain meaning: the interpreting of sayings in a sense never meant either by the communicating spirit or by the prophet or teacher.  By this means inspiration becomes a vehicle for sectarian opinions; the Bible, an armoury from which each disputant may draw his favorite weapon; and theology, a matter of private notion, backed up by false and misleading interpretation.”

- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 2 Nov, 17:29

Dear Paul: You are surely correct in suggesting that we are talking past one another, given that I agree with much of what you say. One problem here is that the historical Jesus of the synoptic gospels did not communicate in a linear, expository fashion but rather was a master of the pointed saying, the analogy, the story, the parable, the demonstrative or symbolic action. Thus, you won’t find in the gospels much by way of direct explanation; rather, the truths are hidden like treasure buried in a field, yet powerful like a tiny mustard seed that becomes a great plant. For me and many others, that kind of evocative, open-ended expression of truth is more inviting, more compelling, more edifying, than listening to someone attempt to lay things out clearly and directly…especially when it comes to the nature of the afterlife, how we are to live this life, and our relationship to the incomprehensible Creator of both. Seen in this light, the gospels are bursting with crucial information about ultimate things, but only in a way that must be sought out, teased out, then nurtured in the soul of the seeker. Such is the most effective mode of spiritual growth, as I’ve come to experience (a bit of) it. But people differ in what speaks to them on the deepest level, each upward path is unique, so to each, my friend, his or her own.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 2 Nov, 15:32

Dear Paul,

My paper on the relevance of Relativity Theory to the way each soul exists within the universe(s) provides a logical, scientific, and possibly CORRECT understanding of how the soul exteriorises itself from the soma at the event we call dying - but Amos Doyle has pronounced the paper irrelevant without even knowing what it says. I suppose that’s final. And I acknowledge that many others do not understand it, but a few do. Some who know their Relativity are unable to ‘see’ the rather obvious but unnoticed small extension I suggest to the conventional physicist’s view but, again, a few DO see it. A R D Mathias says he is not an expert on Relativity, but also says that the paper is well argued. You have to pretty logical to earn THAT from A R D Mathias. You are welcome to read it if you would like to.

Eric Franklin, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Eric Franklin, Tue 2 Nov, 11:34

Newton, I think we are talking past one another, as I am querying specifically with respect to clear teachings regarding the posthumous externalization of the soul in the Gospel accounts.  I would accord myself familiar with these – although I am happy to admit you greater familiarity.  The only Gospel passage that comes to mind is that I cited previously: “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”  The alternative translation you present effectively takes this off the table of consideration as a reasonably indicative pointer regarding the posthumous externalization of the soul.  The two other teachings you previously cite “whitewashed tombs, outwardly beautiful, inwardly full of corruption” and “the first will be last, and the last, first” are indirectly suggestive at best.  I mean by this that if one did not already know of the discarnate/OBE testimony regarding the posthumous externalization of the soul, there is no way that such a teaching could be directly extracted from either or both of these Gospel passages.  Are there specific Gospel passages that you consider clear and unambiguous pointers to this teaching?  That is the relevant question.

Paul, Tue 2 Nov, 04:25

You are absolutely correct Eric.  I will never achieve Tymn’s 98.2% belief.  In fact, after reading your example and wondering if that is representative of many examples given as proof or evidence of an after life, I think I have fallen to about a 40% or less belief in survival.


No, it did not occur to me that your relative was experiencing all of those things you fabricated for him after he had died.  You made that all up!  You have no idea how death affected him and most likely he would not have cared less about the earth life he just left behind and less about his brother.  That view is supported by innumerable reported near-death experiences of people including mothers who moved forward leaving their children, spouse and others behind knowing that they would be all right.


I think I have an open mind Eric but not so open that my brains fall out. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 1 Nov, 21:43

Utter rubbish, Amos. You obviously do not even understand the logic of my reasoning. Don’t test my patience any longer please. There is such a thing as a will to DISbelieve, and you are showing it. Sorry - I REALLY DO mean utter rubbish. Now you are ignoring MEANING in the situation, which insults the Great Being does it not? You are revealing your true nature, Amos: you are the archetypal Sceptic and will never reach Mike’s 98.2%. But the Great All-being is very merciful, though the path before you is going to be very long.

Does it not occur to you that the one who died may well have been attempting to get back into a physical body since he had been brought up to believe that death is total unconsciousness, not continued consciousness without the physical body. He would realise that the situation was the ultimate “religious” situation, and that he had been wrong. He had been brought up to expect that he could not be out of his body and still be alive, and, for the reasons given in the book, his brother’s body was probably the one to attack in the panicky state of mind such a person MUST have felt himself in. You have in fact answered NONE of the points I made. Read ALL the several pages of context I described in Maureen’s book, with an open mind. Empathise with the whole situation, including the panic of a man who finds himself wrong AFTER the moment of death and still has at least a lingering fear that God is a cruel judge. Then the coincidence of time and the probability of less than 1 in 41,760 of that coincidence being by chance even during a period of only one month will begin to reveal its meaning. And, finally, have you never read any Carl Wickland?

But I’m grateful that you describe Maureen’s book as exquisite.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 1 Nov, 18:52

I must disagree with you, Paul, that the hidden becoming the manifest, the inner becoming the outer (in the afterlife awaiting us), is not one of THE primary themes running through Jesus’ words and actions. My little gospel makes this point in spades, and it was written long before Michael made me aware of spiritualism. It should also be noted that “the kingdom of God/heaven is within you,” is better translated, according to many NT scholars, as that kingdom being “in the midst of you.” Personally, I prefer the latter translation as more in accord with the prophetic tradition in which Jesus so clearly stood. If you dive into the history of the spiritualist movement of the mid to late 19th Century, you find that spiritualism was also firmly rooted in this prophetic tradition, being deeply involved in the abolition movement, the promotion of women’s rights, the promotion of world peace, concern for and care of the poor, etc. I fear this prophetic element, the sharp social edge supplementing the personal dimension, is something that spiritualism has lost to its detriment.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 1 Nov, 15:52

On the day my cousin Joey drowned and after having informed my grandmother a hour later, I was sitting on the steps outside of my grandmother’s house.  (I was 22 years old then.)  A drop of water fell on my head and I thought that Joey was trying to let me know that as a spirit he was still around.  As it turned out, I was sitting underneath the roof gutters and that drop of water had dripped from the gutter onto my head. Now does anyone think there was a relationship between the death of my cousin and that drop of water on my head?  Anyone? Eric?  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 1 Nov, 14:34

Amos,

You do not need to teach me simple biology, thank you.

When I was in hospital last April, after a stroke, the consultant was intrigued, even a little amused, asking me in front of his ten or more students whether I myself had a background in medicine when I said I had suffered a cerebellar ischaemia, but was recovering.

In fact you, Amos, have PRESUMED without evidence that the effect upon the man suffering dizziness at the VERY TIME his brother “died” was a case of food poisoning, despite there being stronger, if indirect, evidence that it was caused non-physically. (The evidence from Akiro Tonomura’s experiment and from Alain Aspect’s Paris experiments of the early 1980s is just as indirect.) And have you never heard of effects sometimes being multiply determined? I dealt with this very matter in chapter 15 of Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book, in refutation of the notoriously prejudiced philosopher Gilbert Ryle, regarding the famous ‘knee-jerk’ reflex, which, as it happens, is precisely what you are showing in this matter. You are showing a full-blooded version of the typical sceptic’s dismissiveness, as you often have heretofore.

The food you try to insist without evidence poisoned the man who felt a uniquely extreme dizziness on 28 November 2007, at the very time his brother “died” (NOT four hours earlier, as the meal was being eaten - a point you missed) was cooked by that man’s partner. It was a one-dish pasta recipe, well stirred, (ie any bacteria and their toxic metabolic products were well stirred throughout the dish) yet the man’s partner ate the same evening meal at the very same time as he did, and had no sickness of any kind, either within minutes of eating it or at the time of the distant “death” four hours later.

Amos, the evidence is against you and you are dogmatising in the way sceptics always do, not even considering the whole evidence but dismissing it outright, as if the fact that if an effect COULD HAVE BEEN from another cause it is somehow automatically PROVED that is was from that cause, not from the equally-possible non-physical cause. That its a very stupid error, Amos, based on nothing more than stubbornness. You have a better mind than that.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 1 Nov, 05:55

In reply to Newton, certainty Christ’s teaching regarding ‘whitewashed tombs’ and ‘the last shall be first’ are of relevance and importance here, although both lack the ‘direct pointing’ regarding the posthumous externalization of the soul that one finds in Ziewe and the other sources I have previously quoted.  Another, even more relevant quote from Christ is “The kingdom of heaven is within you” [on this, see more below]. It should be emphasized however that, among ‘terrestrial’ sources, such teaching is found elsewhere as well.  To cite the ‘Technician’, the ‘angelic’ figure who assisted the instrumental transcommunication efforts of the Luxembourg group:

“Heaven is in man and those who have heaven within themselves go to heaven. Heaven is in all those who recognize what is of God and let themselves be guided by the Divine. The priority and basic concern of every religion has always been the acknowledgement of God!”  [cf. Luke 17:21 “The kingdom of God [heaven] is within you.”] [Theo Locher & Maggy Harsch-Fischbach, “Breakthroughs in Technical Spirit Communication”, ch.3; ]http://www.worlditc.org/c_01_lohf_first.htm]

Indeed other traditions similarly gesture to the same truth regarding the externalization of the soul. To cite but two other sources ready to hand, the first from the philosopher Mark Anderson citing Socrates:

“In the mythos near the end of the dialogue he [Socrates] maintains that the man who dies with a pure soul will in the afterlife live in a place befitting his soul’s purity (Phaedo 108C), a region he associates with the True Earth, an earth that is pure and moving in purity.” [Mark Anderson, “Pure: Modernity, Philosophy and the One”, p.77]

The second, from the leading scholar of Sufism, William Chittick, citing Ibn ‘Arabi:

As long as we are hindered by corporeal restraints, the invisible realms can only be accessed imperfectly. The soul needs to be freed from its fetters in order to spread its wings. Beyond the preliminary realm of development known as “this world” lies the realm of unlimited becoming called “the next world.” Death allows the infinite potential of the soul to achieve an invisible visibility through imaginal embodiment in realms of becoming that lie beyond physical possibility. Once the body is shucked off, the soul has direct access to the in-between realms that lead on to the divine spirit. Ibn ‘Arabi tells us that death internalizes everything that had been outward, visible, and physical in our own individual nature. What was external here becomes the stable ground of the soul’s interiority there. In contrast, what was internal here—everything hidden in our thoughts and character traits—is externalized as the defining landscape of our new world. [William Chittick, “Muslim Eschatology”, p.145]

Paul, Mon 1 Nov, 00:27

Eric,

I’m sorry I cannot contribute to the discussion about your wife’s book, but it has been at least five years since I read it and just don’t recall specifics. With the possibility of a move to a condominium or graduation to a different realm of existence not too far in the future, I have been donating books to LittleLibrary.org and that seems to have been one of them. I’m holding on to all my pre-1940 books, but the rest are gradually going.

I assume that the subtle energy body is what Professor Robert Hare was talking about when he wrote:  “The aura of a medium which thus enables an immortal spirit to do within its scope things which it cannot do otherwise, appears to vary with the human being resorted to; so that only a few are so endowed with this aura as to be competent as media.  Moreover, in those who are so constituted as to be competent instruments of spiritual actuation, this competency is various.  There is a gradation of competency, by which the nature of the instrumentality varies from that which empowers violent loud knocking and the moving of ponderable bodies without actual contact, to the grade which confers power to make intellectual communication of the higher order without that of audible knocking.  Further, the power to employ these grades of mediumship varies as the sphere of the spirit varies.”

Michael Tymn, Sun 31 Oct, 23:13

I am sorry Eric but there is no evidence for survival in the example you chose to share in Dr. Lockhart’s book.  When your example goes into the history books of spiritualism and gets chewed-on by multiple writers how in the world can anyone provide any “evidence’ to the contrary.  The only evidence possible could only be provided by collecting food samples at the times of the food poisoning and culturing them in a laboratory. 


Food poisoning caused by toxins only affects the person who eats the toxin.  In the early stages of bacterial growth that causes food poisoning the bacteria do not permeate the whole food, that is the toxin is confined to the immediate vicinity of the bacterium producing it.  It is like a slice of moldy bread in the early stages of mold growth caused by a mold spore.  One may see several circles of the growth of mycelia of ‘mold’ but if one cuts off the moldy portion of the bread slice, them the rest of the bread is free of taste and odor of mold. It is the same with bacteria that produce toxins.  If the food is eaten in the early stages of bacterial reproduction, only those people who eat the portion contain the toxin will get sick.  However, if the food is left un-refrigerated for a longer period of time the toxin will permeate the entire amount of food and all of the food will produce food poisoning in all people susceptible to that toxin.  It goes without saying that all people who eat a given meal must eat the same foods in order to accurately evaluate a case of food poisoning.


The “will to believe” is strong Eric, especially in someone who has lost a loved one to death and may be in the throes of grieving.  Those of us who do believe that consciousness does survive death of the physical form must be on guard for our own vulnerability to the “will to believe”. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 31 Oct, 18:31

Thank you, Paul, for an important and illuminating post. A central theme of the historical Jesus, as best we can reconstruct him, is the inner becoming the outer in the afterlife, the hidden being revealed to all. How many of us, especially among the more privileged and powerful, are “whitewashed tombs, outwardly beautiful, inwardly full of corruption?” Accordingly, says Jesus, many will be surprised in the afterlife when it turns out that “the first will be last, and the last, first.” For those interested in the historical Jesus, as opposed to a channeled version, here’s my attempt to recapture him by taking the gospels apart, sifting them, editing them, and then reassembling them into modern short story form. The booklet’s cover can be clicked on to freely read the intro, the booklet itself costing a buck to be donated to charity.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Truth-synoptic-gospel-Theophilus-ebook/dp/B00NIZOJ4C

Newton E. Finn, Sun 31 Oct, 18:27

The following comments, which relate indirectly to Michael’s most recent ones, are proximally inspired by my very recent viewing of the first handful of videos under Jurgen Ziewe’s 30-part (so far) ‘Afterlife Answers’ series on his YouTube channel [www.youtube.com/channel/UCRHgi-1l0ipWzJjL12JytEQ/playlists].  Although I have found that other OBE explorers such as Robert Monroe seem to have certain problematic aspects to their accounts that integrate poorly with the bulk of posthumous / discarnate sources and testimony, this appears not to be the case with Ziewe, and his writings and accounts form a useful and beneficial supplement to the usual sources.  He is the author – I should acknowledge in passing – of two books of OBE testimony: ‘Vistas of Infinity’ and ‘Multidimensional Man’.  Anyway, all this is by way of introduction.

The point I really wish to make is that Michael is entirely correct in his consistent identification and labeling of secularists as nihilists, further in here – citing William James – calling out the consequence of the “absence of all permanent meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular-science evolutionism of our time are all that is visible ultimately…”  In this context, the problem with the ‘nihilist stance’ is twofold.  First, it renders any notion or mounting of ‘secular values’ or ‘humanist values’ ultimately incoherent – under nihilism, all values are incoherent.  Of course, a self-identifying secularist would simply claim in response not to be a nihilist, but ultimately nihilism is a necessary entailment on metaphysical naturalism.

I could quote many sources to demonstrate this, but here let me limit myself to the following comment by the leading philosopher of mind John Searle: “There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy… How do we fit in?… How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?” [John Searle, ‘Freedom and Neurobiology’, pp.4-5]

The way that this problem – really an impossible one under materialism – has been solved in practice is by ignoring it.  Thus, the modern world is full of incoherent, self-deceiving nihilists who noisily assert values that they can lay no possible metaphysical claim to.  In principle, of course, this is an impossibility, but in practice, it is commonplace.  All of this is in regard to the inherent contradiction of the ‘secular stance’ – what the philosopher Charles Taylor has helpfully called the ‘closed immanent frame’ – and does not involve God, religion or the afterlife as a foil or alternative at all.

The second point is more problematic still, and this is what was proximally sparked by my recent encounter with Ziewe’s aforementioned videos.  He mentions in passing at several points that when we die (to paraphrase), our internality becomes externalized.  Now, to someone hearing this for the first time, this might pass unnoticed or be treated as a puzzling curiosity.  However, for myself, his statement struck with force, for I had come across this same remarkable teaching in other sources.  Here, for instance, is the remarkable and insufficiently known afterlife researcher Paul Beard:

In the lower areas – it is almost impossible to avoid these geographical concepts – men discover their actual self to which on earth they preferred to remain largely blind.  Now they can no longer avoid their real selves; it is unpleasant where they are, because they are unpleasant….A very selfish man is often depicted as finding himself in a rocky landscape, surrounded by a grey, dark mist….But what a selfish man built up around him on earth and believed to be his is so different from what his real character now reflects in his surroundings that an extremely unpleasant shock faces him. [Paul Beard, ‘Living On’, p.85-6]

Here also is the remarkable discarnate testimony from that voluble communicator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

Yes, the lowest astral plane is one of burning and persistent desire, all of which the sufferer has engendered and fostered during his earth life….You will ask about the plane above?  Well, there we find life a little brighter….Throughout the soul’s journey through the spheres, light comes only because the inner self is awakening.  [In the lower astral plane] Stunted trees and vegetation become visible but the inhabitants still dwell in mists and are themselves clothed in grey.  Being in fact wrapped up in self-centeredness they still create for themselves similar clothing and environment.  In this manner does their self-centeredness become outwardly actualized in a perfectly logical and natural manner….Again, [in the mid-astral plane] the inward spiritual conditions of the inhabitants become externalized in this manner….[In the higher astral plane] Here the soul has attained to some mental and spiritual development, and having thus attained begins to create these conditions of harmony and beauty out of itself; for they are after all only the reflex of the soul’s mental and spiritual level.  Cannot you understand the reason why this should be?  Paradoxical though it will appear, these conditions come about because the human spirit is at last able to modify the conditions and environment which surround it from itself – from out of itself; much as a man on earth is continually contributing harmony (or disharmony) to his family and home life. [Ivan Cooke (ed.), ‘The Return of Arthur Conan Doyle’, p.103]

Now, consider if we could at once a) recognize the essential truth of this collective testimony, b) hold to that understanding, and c) attempt to order our lives in light of it, to clean our own interior house as it were, and to strive to keep it that way.  One might conceive of this as a kind of internal hygiene, one that would yield benefit not only ‘here and now’, but also in the ‘hereafter’ when our own internality – our soul, as it were – becomes externalized, whether in filth or in glory.  Herein lies the second, major problem of the ‘secular frame’: those trapped within it – and it really can be usefully conceived as a kind of ‘paradigm entrapment’ – have no idea and are effectively blocked from having an idea that such a broader situation applies to them, and indeed must be attended to for the sake of their very own personal felicity.  This is obviously not to say that a person can’t be trapped in a secular frame and yet have a ‘harmonious (‘bright’, ‘warm’, ‘light’, ‘beautiful,…) interior’, but such a situation is, as it were, a fortunate ‘accident’ attending their secularity – their nihilism – rather than something flowing naturally from it.

Paul, Sun 31 Oct, 15:23

I would say to all of this: let everybody free to walk the path they choose as long that they don’t obstruct others from doing the same. The golden mean is the easiest path, but from the deepest point in the valley you can climb the highest mountain where the view is magnificent. You can give others advice, but don’t push them. Your own exprience is the best teacher.I’ m sure, there will come a time…maybe quicker than we think😉.

Chris, Sun 31 Oct, 11:33

Dear all,

Evidently, I have to be pedantic, and say even more. There is no such thing as scientific proof, but there is often evidence for one view rather than another that the evidence for one possible view is, in the particular case, sufficiently strong to be convincing. (Popper) [Who now believes the ‘Phlogiston Theory? We have SUFFICIENT REASON to reject it in favour of Daltonian theory.]

What I have said so far is ILLUSTRATIVE OF THAT PRINCIPLE. There is SUFFICIENT REASON to believe a hidden CAUSAL CONNECTION between the two events recounted in the book. I show that the chance of the conjunction of a death of a close relative and a biological effect on another living person is very small EVEN IF THE WHOLE HISTORY OF TIME IS NO MORE THAN ONE 30-DAY MONTH. And time, as every one of us REMEMBERS PERSONALLY, has been a little longer than a thirty-day month. The mathematical calculation is irrefutable in itself, not depending on evidence, its consequents therefore undeniable. It shows us a very rare coincidence, only one in 41,760. Ergo it is worth, since it is a matter of spiritual beliefs, seeking a behind-the-scenes (spiritual, invisible) CAUSAL explanation relating to the spiritual attitudes of the persons (two brothers) involved - and that possible (therefore probable?) explanation is easy to see. Sure enough, the putative effect followed the cause in the usual (but not invariable) manner. [an exception is Aristotle’s final cause] The death preceded the dizzy spell. Coup de grace on the point?: another person far more remotely connected with the man who “died” shared the same meal with the one who became dizzy during the same less-than-half-hour period as the death, and did not suffer even slightly the food poisoning that AOD alleges (without the slightest evidence) to have caused the dizziness. Which explanation is the more credible? That an alternative explanation exists merely LOGICALLY cannot prove it FACTUALLY the correct explanation. There has to be INDEPENDENT evidence to support the alternative explanation before it can be accepted as proven, and AOD produces none. It is more reasonable to accept that an influence behind the scenes (ie not sensible or observable, inherently a matter of belief, not proof) operated, then suddenly ceased. And that phenomenon occurred only MINUTES AFTER the ‘death’, which is corroborative evidence, but, as always, not proof, as Popper demonstrated.

How much more pedantic argument must I adduce?

The evidence of survival, though indirect, is surely stronger than the evidence of food poisoning?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 31 Oct, 10:43

Michael D. suggests that I got sidetracked by changing the focus from secularists to Christians. I agree that in my attempts to limit word length to something around 1,600 with a maximum of 2,000, I sometimes fail in making the links.  There are so many shades of gray in everything these days that separating one shade of gray from another becomes cumbrous. It is like making the distinction between hedonism and epicureanism.  As I understand it, the Epicurean is more concerned with avoiding pain than in seeking the pleasure of the hedonist. But both are brands of philistinism, which Kierkegaard defined as “man tranquilizing himself with the trivial.”  It is man striving to be “one with his toys.”  With that broader category in mind, I would put secularists and most Christians in the same boat, i.e., philistines.  In effect, the secularists are waging war on their fellow philistines, not really grasping that the key issue is consciousness surviving death rather than the adoration of a “wrathful” God.

As Michel de Montaigne, the French philosopher, put it:  “They come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good.  Yet, when death does come – to them, their wives, their children, their friends – catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries, what fury, what despair!”

As for the legacy aspect, I don’t get your point.  The activities mentioned, i.e., eat, drink….be merry, should provide the legacy.

And I agree with Rick that I neglected mentioning the key point of Pascal’s Wager – the “win-win” aspect of it – if you decide to believe and you then find yourself conscious after death, you win both ways, although Pascal focused more on believing in God than survival and did not factor in the possibility that some souls, those who did not lead a particularly moral life, may not immediately look upon it as a “win.”  They might not even realize they are “dead.” Or they might be caught up in a seemingly unending nightmare.

Michael Tymn, Sat 30 Oct, 23:00

Eric Franklin, 30 Oct, 15:06:

In order to find some spiritual truths we need to be more scientifically and mathematically minded. I cannot help remarking, without wanting to be uncharitable towards good spiritually-minded friends, that it is no wonder what I write is so rarely understood or considered worthy of response.

Eric, I don’t understand how you calculate the probabilities involved in the incident you cite. But rest easy, I do consider what you write worthy of response.

Not having at hand The Subtle Energy Body by Maureen Lockhart, pp. 261 to 263, I cannot assess how evidential the event was. Presumably something about it is more convincing than that a person died and shortly afterward another person experienced an “extreme and unique dizziness.” (What makes a particular dizzy spell unique?)

The two events following quickly on one another might be related, but why does the brief period separating them so strongly indicate survival? If the decedent took his time recovering his wits in the afterlife and greeted the recipient by making him uniquely dizzy on Day 12 instead of Day 1, would that reduce its validity by xxxx%?

The dizziness ends rather suddenly (as if some event, invisible to the experiencer of the dizziness, has precipitately intervened to stop the influence which has been producing the dizziness).

Cool. This morning I had a beast of a headache, now it is gone. I’m grateful for whatever invisible event intervened to stop the influence that pounded my skull.

And to help me comprehend the world, inner and outer, from now on I’ll try to be more scientifically and mathematically minded.

Rick Darby, Sat 30 Oct, 20:50

MichaelD,
I would comment that “promoting secular values” might include “Eat, drink, shop, play with electronic toys, have sex, escape into fantasyland with fiction, be merry, and thoroughly enjoy the moment is the philosophy instilled in them by Hollywood, the advertising industry, and the secularist worldview.”

I don’t see that added definition of ‘Promoting secular values’ as a “strawman as you suggest. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 30 Oct, 20:43

I can no longer restrain myself from commenting.

As a preface to my comment, I need to say that I have spent more than 20 years as an administrator of Public Health programs at both the State and County levels where I directed programs for food service sanitation and other environmental health issues including such programs as related to a State-wide licensing and certification programs for all State long-term care facilities. In addition, I have been involved for 25 years with a physician’s office where I was privy to a multitude of various illnesses and disease conditions.  I say this for those who have commented that I need to educate myself further concerning spiritual matters and an implied lack of knowledge on my part.  These spiritual matters I have spent the past 60 years or more trying to understand.


Be that as it may, I have to say, with no disrespect to Eric whom I believe is a caring intelligent man, that the example he references on pages 261-264 of Dr. Maureen Lockhart’s exquisite book, “The Subtle Energy Body” is exactly the reason I do not believe everything that is said as evidence of survival of human consciousness after death of the physical form.  To me the man in the example was suffering from a classic case of food poisoning; a food poisoning caused by a bacterial toxin in the evening meal he ate and had nothing to do with the death of his relative.  Within a matter of a few minutes, those toxins cause symptoms, one of which is dizziness.  Though usually not the first symptom of food poisoning it can be concomitant with nausea, vomiting and headache.  One will note in the example that symptoms occurred during a 4-hour period of time following an evening meal and culminated in vomiting after which the symptoms were relieved.  This is typical of food poisoning caused by toxins.
 

Adjusting periods of time up or back to accommodate a relationship with a distant event is unacceptable as providing any evidence of a relationship between two events.  Coincidence is the most likely conclusion for this example.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 30 Oct, 20:35

They say:

“a legacy – that will make the world a better place for others.. . .legacy gift is a charitable vision that serves as a permanent force for good for generations of nonreligious youth to come.”
And then you paraphrase their home page statement as “Its goals are to empower secular students to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values and set a course for lifelong activism.”

So far so good.

But then you build a straw man that has nothing to do with what they say, changing their goal into nothing they have promoted:

#
“Eat, drink, shop, play with electronic toys, have sex, escape into fantasyland with fiction, be merry, and thoroughly enjoy the moment is the philosophy instilled in them by Hollywood, the advertising industry, and the secularist worldview.

Then you say:

“Most of those I have met or whose comments I have read on the internet seem locked into an angry god and a monotonous heaven.”

My comment:

Everything you blast from the “#” down sounds exactly like most of the avid Christians that I run into in real life, especially the huge conservative branch, but also to a great extent the more normal ones. Much of contemporary Christianity teaches that good behavior brings immediate rewards: wealth on earth, happiness on earth, and directly encourages adherents to pray for earthly objectives promising that God will answer those requests. “Thoughts and prayers” for even their most horrible outcomes and vengeance. Very little attention is given to the afterlife. Perhaps because as they state it, it IS boring. Not Christ-like, but very Christian these days.

In fact both the goals and outcome as you have paraphrased them for atheists sound exactly like contemporary mainstream Christianity, in the United States, at least.

I think you could and should do better than this. Profession of belief in God or of none is not an indicator of one’s personal habits. There are plenty of atheists who argue that a solid moral code is simply good strategy for getting along and building communities, without the Magical Club of the Enforcer God. Good behavior is simply good game theory in life, no God needed. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory]

Over the last 60 years I have flipped sides quite a bit, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, but my personal behavior didn’t change with those changes, because my moral code was established by good parents who said they were Christian but who did not ever use God as a boogeyman to back them up. Instead they taught simple cause and effect and empathy as the reasons to treat others well. I’m sure many atheists had a similar upbringing, with much better results than those who were brought up in “Christian” homes.

You attack the wrong target: you have made a mistake in listening to the loudest, most obnoxious voices, mistaking them for the whole.

Perhaps I have done the same regarding Christianity, since only something like 40% of Christianity in the US is as I have claimed. . . but with the other 60% quietly supporting them by maintaining an un Christ-like silence about it all, maybe I haven’t mischaracterized Christianity at all.

At any rate, while I believe and support the original tenants and objectives of Christ and believe in the existence of a supreme power, I certainly will not name myself as a “Christian” in today’s atmosphere.

I say it again, differently: clean your own house before you attack your neighbors.

MichaelD, Sat 30 Oct, 16:22

Dear Newton, and all,

I am glad to have your reaction, Newton, to the incident I recount in Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book, but there is a little more to say. It deserves to be said, so I am going to say it, boldly, and you can all accept what I say, or reject it, just as you each wish.

The incident is far more impressive as EVIDENCE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF A MAN WHO ‘DIES’ than Newton thinks (and he is, as all must by now have realised, a very lovely man, with the kind of warm and genuine heart we all ought to have).

1.  The person is observed to have died (his heart no longer beats: the usual definition of the death of a physical body) by about 9.20 in the evening. Let’s use the time of 9.40 to provide sufficient leeway for the argument to be irrefutable.

2.  The time when the extreme and unique dizziness is felt by the ‘recipient’ person is confirmed beyond all doubt to be 10.00 pm, shall we say 20 minutes AFTER the LATEST POSSIBLE TIME of the death, defined and observed in the usual way.

3. There are 29 more days in the month of November alone than the day on which the death occurred.

4. There are 29 more days in the month of November alone than the day on which the other person experiences the UNIQUE dizziness.

5. The probability of the two events (i.e. the ‘death’ and the dizziness) occurring within half an hour of each other and with the dizziness FOLLOWING the death, on one 24 hour day, and not occurring at all on any other dates and times during November alone (ie ignoring all the other days of any one year) is one in 41,760.

6. The two events did indeed take place on the same day, within half an hour of each other, the dizziness FOLLOWING the death, and with the ‘recipient’ of the experience of dizziness unaware until the NEXT day that a ‘relevant’ death (or ANY relevant-seeming event) had occurred.

7.  The dizziness ends rather suddenly (as if some event, invisible to the experiencer of the dizziness, has precipitately intervened to stop the influence which has been producing the dizziness).

In order to find some spiritual truths we need to be more scientifically and mathematically minded. I cannot help remarking, without wanting to be uncharitable towards good spiritually-minded friends, that it is no wonder what I write is so rarely understood or considered worthy of response.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 30 Oct, 15:06

The incident to which Eric calls our attention (pp. 261-264 of the internet version of “The Subtle Energy Body”), seems less spectacular and veridical than numerous other psi phenomena that Michael has highlighted over the years. Yet this incident does provide evidence directly supportive of Frederic Myers’ contention, underlying all of “Human Personality”—from the fixed idea of hysteria to full-blown trance mediumship—that the subliminal mind or self is continuously active and more fundamental to our being than “ordinary” waking consciousness. Myers maintains that the avenue by which we can have communication with the discarnate is the same avenue by which can we have extrasensory communication with the incarnate or, for that matter, internal communication between our subliminal and supraliminal “selves” (a psychological dualism, manifesting in a range from hysteria to genius, which may in turn point toward a physical dualism involving a “subtle body” as indicated in Eric’s incident). Myers coined the word “telepathy” for a compelling reason; namely, that “the telepathic law” was, for him, no less than the transcendent bond between all human beings and, by extension, I submit, between all living things. Thus Rupert Sheldrake’s pioneering work on morphic fields/resonance, including those dogs who know when their owners are coming home, or those cats, in my case, who know when it’s time to go to the vet.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 30 Oct, 01:54

The rationale of Pascal’s wager is that if God exists, you will be punished big time for not believing in Him; but if you bet He exists and you are wrong, you lose nothing.

The betting in Pascal’s casino isn’t really about the truth of God or Spirit. Like all bets, it is just a calculation based on self-interest, a philosophical horse race. The choice provides nothing in the way of evidence, let alone proof.

In practical, this-world terms, choosing the door marked Belief might be preferable because it offers hope that can make life’s setbacks and even tragedies more bearable.

But Rex Stout’s detective Nero Wolfe implies otherwise: “This is a pleasant surprise, Archie. I would not have believed it. That of course is the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.”

As you say, Michael, life offers many guides to belief and lifestyle that are superior to spinning a coin.

Rick Darby, Fri 29 Oct, 17:18

Dear all,

In his present blog Mike (Tymn of course) is exploring the question of what strength of evidence we have of survival of the event called ‘dying’. We can all imagine some kind of after-death event that would be the most nearly convincing for ourselves, a variety of events, of course, as Sir William Barrett is believed to have told us, for each of us an event of one type appealing more convincingly than an event of another type, according to the type of mind we each have.

A little while ago I suggested a published account of a type that might appeal to many people, given in the book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’ by Dr Maureen Lockhart. It is there to be read by everyone interested on pages 261 to 263, with a fairly thorough analysis beginning on page 263 that adds weight to the conviction, for those who have it, that the life concerned had not ended, and that the evidence of survival is therefore strong. The reason this account might be convincing is that it recounts an unusual event which took place within minutes of the ‘death’ but well over two hundred miles from the place of ‘death’, and before the experiencer heard of the ‘death’, so suggesting that the recently ‘dead’ person was not dead at all, but was more (not less) capable than before, able indeed to direct his own presence, his own still-conscious reality, to a geographical place a greater distance from the place of ‘dying’ to be possible to cover by ANY human travel technology.

Newton, and Mike (Tymn), have both read the account, but no-one has commented on its value as evidence. I think it is well worth reading and worthy of some discussion here. I hope Mike (Tymn), to whom we all owe such a debt of gratitude for his various writings, agrees.

Newton discovered that the book is available FREE online, so most of us can get hold of it if interested. (Not a bad free gift, to get well over three man/years of the authors’ work without paying a dime, or whatever your currency).

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 29 Oct, 09:33

Here’s a little of what Meister Eckhart had to say about God:;

“You should love God without your head; that is to say, the soul should become headless and stripped of her mental nature. For as long as your soul is mental, she will possess images.”

“Also, you should not wish to understand anything about God, for God is beyond all understanding. If you understand anything about him, then God is not in it; and by understanding something of him, you fall into ignorance; and by falling into ignorance, you become like an animal, since the animal part in creatures is that which is unknowing.”

“If we take a fly as it exists in God, then it is nobler in God than the highest angel is in itself.”

Jon, Thu 28 Oct, 15:50

Stafford Betty speaks, I believe, for all of us here in Michael’s internet “congregation.” This thread is amazing and inspiring, from the initial post through each and every comment. What a joy it is to follow and participate in this conversation! I finally worked my way through Chapter 15 of “The Subtle Energy Body,” as Eric invited us to do in a prior thread. While I’ll have to go back and read the chapter a couple more times to grok it, I did come across a brief section directly apropos to this discussion. It concerns the famous mathematician and philosopher Kurt Godel (needs a ” for the “o”), the originator of those   incompleteness theorems which undermined the self-sufficiency of math. “What did Godel himself believe? He was a theist, firmly rejecting the notion that God was an impersonal force or thing or principle that, or who, did not ever intervene in our low world. He believed there is an afterlife, writing, ‘I am convinced of the afterlife, independent of theology. If the world is rationally constructed, there must be an afterlife.’” I wish he were still with us to explain precisely what he meant, but I suspect that “The Subtle Energy Body,” in its totality, contains more than ample clarification.

Newton E. Finn, Wed 27 Oct, 02:32

I had the Imperator quote ready to go, but Newton beat me to it.  So I will go with Silver Birch:

“It is impossible to give you a complete picture [of God]. God is infinite. All language, concepts, and pictures must be finite. The lesser cannot include the greater…..[God] is not a magnified man, the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  It is not a deity who is full of vengeance and sends plagues because of displeasure.  It is not a capricious, wrathful deity. History and evolution show that the world slowly moves forward, upward, revealing the power behind it is beneficient. So gradually you get this picture of infinite love and wisdom that rule all, govern all, that direct all and are within all.  All that I call the Great Spirit.”

Michael Tymn, Tue 26 Oct, 22:41

In reaction to Yvonne I ask myself if we do better if we listen more to the most recent spirit teachings than to those of a century ago because we humans evolved in that time and maybe we can understand some things now better (like relativity,quantumphysics, multidimensional stuf and physics about all sorts of energy). They tell the same truths but with other details and less parables. I think that through history most of the truths are almost identical but adapted to the scenery of the timeperiod the teachings were given.

Chris, Tue 26 Oct, 20:00

I found Newton’s quotations from Imperator and Patience Worth exhilarating and forwarded them to the Bible-entrenched friends I uncomfortably attend church with. Thank you, Newton!

And then there is Paul’s thoughtful meditation on God, with which I entirely agree, though I cannot claim to have proof of the vision he offers. Thank you, Paul!

Here is one more quotation I have long relished, this time from the spirit claiming to be William James, as found in The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher, channeled through Jane Roberts, of Seth fame, and one of the best examples of spirit literature I’ve come across.

James devotes a chapter to a description of what he calls “an atmospheric presence” and “a knowing light.” This light, he says, “is alive with a loving intent that is instantly felt and experienced in a direct manner. There is no mistaking its intent, and I am again struck by the ambiguity of its vastly personal and impersonal aspects.” He says this light “seems to be based on an intimate, loving knowledge of my own state and being so complete that it spontaneously delivers what is needed before I realize my own needs—in a way more characteristic of a mother, say, than a father.”

Wonderful material! And quite reminiscent of Frances Banks’s description of the Light in Testimony of Light, another masterpiece of spirit literature.

Good heavens, it’s wonderful having friends like you all. Thanks, Mike, for bringing us together!

Stafford Betty, Tue 26 Oct, 19:42

Paul, atheist Howard Storm had an NDE where he was molested and tortured by a large group of atheists in hell. Storm decided to pray to God and this resulted in the group of discarnates to become appalled and shout at him that “There is no God.” The more he prayed, the farther away the group moved away from him like he was the plague until, eventually, he found himself all alone. He then called out for Jesus to help him; and he was rescued from hell. Here is the 32 minute video which describes it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diPhrDPH8U8
It is truly a very interesting video.

Kevin Williams
https://www.near-death.com/

Kevin Williams, Tue 26 Oct, 19:20

Mike,

Thanks as always for the thought-provoking article.

My belief in reincarnation allows me to view this as a phase these spirits are going through.

Therefore, every person (a spirit on its own spiritual journey) is at a different level of intellectual, spiritual and moral understanding, including their ideas of the Creator and the Afterlife.

We all will reach more of an understanding of these as our spirits evolve further.

Take Care,
Yvonne

Yvonne Limoges, Tue 26 Oct, 18:57

Although, given press of work, it has been many months since I last commented, I do check in from time to time.  In relation to the question at issue, it might be useful here to refer readers back to http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/10_lessons_not_offered_in_sunday_school_or_science_101 and certain lines of discussion that were opened in the comments to that post.  The main point I wish to make here is that the separability of the ‘survival question’ from the ‘God question’ is true enough and yet the resolution of the first in practical terms leads to a resolution of the second.  Here, let me briefly excerpt from much lengthier statements time stamped [Thu 9 Jul, 20:14] and [Fri 10 Jul, 15:47] in that comment thread:

Michael quite rightly points out that the ‘survival question’ is ‘tactically separable’ from the ‘God question’ and that the former can be approached, studied and settled (at least for oneself) independently of the latter.…At the same time, Michael completes Lesson #2 with the statement “One can accept survival and infer some kind of Creator or Higher Intelligence without believing in a humanlike God or subscribing to the whole “worship” side of religions.  To put it another way, the evidence for survival leads to God, not the other way around.”  That is the part I would like to explore a little bit further here, particularly the final sentence.

The basic point is this.  If one provisionally accepts, in the main, the testimony of the discarnate-related literature, one is also faced with accepting that this testimony is unanimous on the basic question of the reality of God.  Put another way, just as there are ‘no atheists in foxholes’, there appear also to be no ‘atheists in the afterlife’.  Although it’s possible that I may not have read or may not presently remember such, I nevertheless don’t recall a single instance from the discarnate literature professing any recognizable form of atheism or the denial of the reality of God.  There could, in principle at least, be such, given that discarnate individuals can be ‘stuck’ in a ‘narrow atheism’ as much as in a ‘narrow creedalism’.  If anyone reading this knows of a countervailing case, I would be interested to hear it, particularly from a source of some discarnate maturity, wisdom and advancement.

I do not, in saying this, mean to suggest that the understanding of ‘God’ that one finds in this literature is fully supportive in detail of any terrestrial religion.  This appears not to be the case.  Nevertheless, the general discarnate understanding of ‘God’ is very close to that found in the ‘classical theology’ of the Greek and Abrahamic traditions, as presented, for instance, in David Conway’s remarkable book “The Rediscovery of Wisdom: From Here to Antiquity in Quest of Sophia”  Or, to cite another touchstone, it is very close to the cross-traditional understanding of God presented in David Bentley Hart’s brilliant book “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.”  Given the choice of deciding, in dispassionately objective terms, whether the understanding of God as found in the discarnate-related literature accords more closely with atheistic secularity or with the best that traditional religions and philosophies have thought – which I would associate with the perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis) that both Conway and Hart are able expositors of – I think that it is inescapable to conclude that this discarnate understanding is completely divergent from the former while closely hewing to the latter.
… Michael, I have no issue or quibble with your preference for the term “Higher Power”, rather than “God”.  I myself frequently prefer to use terms such as “the Absolute” or “the Real”.  I recognize that the term “God”, despite being the ‘standard’ or ‘conventional’ referent for that which we are trying to speak of here, is a loaded one for many people.  Other terms may certainly be deployed.  In any regard, all are merely pointers and placeholders for that which cannot truly be spoken of – as you say, “beyond human comprehension.”  As for spirit communicators saying that they have never ‘seen’ God, this is only to be expected.  The Reality we are gesturing toward here is not a ‘person’, is not ‘anthropomorphic’, does not have a ‘body’, is not a ‘thing’ or ‘being’ that could in any wise be ‘seen’.  About the closest one might come is when Frances Banks describes her experience of the Divine Presence as an encounter with ‘Light’, as when she states at the end of her communications, “If there is a message in these writings it is the simple statement that all is Unity and that Unity is Light.”  The encounter or experience of the Divine presence as light is one common in the discarnate-related literature as well as in ‘terrestrial’ religious and mystical experience.  Your statement regarding the literature that “I don’t recall any having said that there is no God or Higher Power” has, I think, great significance, given that you are likely the widest read in this literature of anyone I know of and that your judgement on this point concurs with my own wide reading.  Given what Stafford Betty has stated in his published writings, I feel confident that, on the basis of his own wide reading, he would concur as well.

Paul, Tue 26 Oct, 18:42

Dear Michael and readers: Regarding that hope that something other than a computer chip is ultimately in charge of things, I offer two teachings from two of the highest spirits who have had to do with us, Imperator and Patience Worth. As for Imperator (responding to Stainton Moses’ concern that the God of spiritualism was degraded “to the level of a force…,” merely some sort of “influence which permeates the universe….”): “We tell you, as Jesus told His followers, of a loving, holy, pure God, who guides and governs the universe; who is not an impersonal conception of the human mind, but a real spiritual Father; who is no embodiment or personification of a force, but a really-existent Being….” And then there’s Patience’s poem entitled “The Remote God.” “Who is this God remote? I know Him not. / Who is He who within the sanctuary of the ever-space / Retreats, forgetting the creation which He flung / In an instant of joy, mayhap, spinning the ether? / I know Him not. That God which I acclaim, / Yea, and I know most fellowable, is one / Who kneels upon the fields and kisses the scarred earth / Leaving blossoms then to spurt. He is one who / Walketh upon the high spots, yes, upon the mountain peaks, / And from the purity of His raiment falleth the chaste snow. / He is one who rides the clouds and weeps in joy. / Inasmuch as His tears are fruitful, I believe / That the universes are so much a part of Him / That they cling as dust atoms to His raiment, / And He may not be rid of them, nor they of Him. / Who is this God remote? I know Him not.”
The goal and horizon of spiritualism, my friends, cannot be Summerland, as wonderful as that first stage of the afterlife surely is, as crucial as the evidence of it is to break through the materialist mindset. No, the goal and horizon of spiritualism must be an ever-deepening awareness and experience of, an ever-stronger devotion to and trust in, a super-personal God, a Heavenly Father beyond our comprehension…but not beyond our love and thankfulness and adoration for His gifts to us of this life and the next.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 26 Oct, 16:32

I greatly admire your energy.

I have recently decided that reincarnation research is scientific “proof” of the existence of a mind independent of a physical body. If only one such case is true and genuine, that is proof. And we can take it from there. I’m sorry that John von Neumann died before Ian Stevenson came along with his Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, and that he didn’t have a grandmother like mine who explained reincarnation to me in 1940.

Bob Gebelein, Tue 26 Oct, 10:17

Jon, I hope “someone” or “something” is in charge and that it is not just a self-programmed computer chip running the show. Many spirit communicators have talked about God while saying they have never seen “Him.” Some have said that God is beyond human comprehension. 

Thanks to all for the comments so far.

Michael Tymn, Tue 26 Oct, 08:19

Very good article, Michael. Ron, maybe the answer is as simple as this: it always existed, there is no beginning no end. But how do you explain evolution and all those changes you can ask. The answer is in that question. Nothing really vanishes but it all changes as for example burning wood(matter) changes into ashes (matter) and heat (energy). If you believe in God being All That Is, I think that’s a possible solution.

chris, Tue 26 Oct, 07:04

Mike,

I think Pascal was onto something. Although his idea of Heaven and Hell is different to what many think of today, God, life, and its consequences after physical death are as one if I understand him correctly. 

We may not be able to articulate or even imagine what God is, but I don’t remember reading many reports from so-called afterlife communicators, NDErs or OBErs, claiming they now think God doesn’t exist. On the contrary, they sometimes say the jealous God of the Old Testament doesn’t exist and that God is love or something like that, but generally they say they feel closer to God/the source, not further away.

An exception might be J. S . M. Ward. In his book, “Gone West: Three Narratives of After-Death Experiences” he talks about a church in Hell being run by an atheist vicar (see link below), but I don’t recall any atheism among the “higher communicators.” Although I might be wrong.

http://whitecrowbooks.com/books/feature/churches_in_hell/

If I have to wager, which according to Pascal I do, I’m betting someone or something is in charge, which people call God.

Jon, Mon 25 Oct, 23:43

Thanks, Mike, for your very Provocative piece on Pascal’s wager.
Your pal,

Dave

David Stang, Mon 25 Oct, 20:42

Bravo!  Excellent post as always.

Apologies ahead of time for the super long response…

> The problem with Pascal’s Wager, as I see it, is that the focus is on a belief in God rather than a belief in an afterlife.

When I dropped my fundamentalist Christianity, and was mulling over soft/hard agnosticism vs. soft/hard atheism, I tried on Pascal’s Wager.

And for me, I said I couldn’t do it ... because I just couldn’t accept The Fire And Brimstone Angry Sky Thug who was going to send me to a Lake of Fire to “burn for all eternity” ... in his infinite love and understanding and justice.

And that’s a nice segue to your next point:

> It is much easier to come up with evidence for consciousness surviving death than for the existence of God.

The problem is, as you’ve intimated, that too many people like me equated “God” with the fundamentalist Christian version.

Once you expand your concept of “God” - and definitely move beyond the contradictory and destructive nonsense of an “all-loving god who will send his creation to eternal Hell fire” - then all kinds of things become possible, as the fear-based roadblocks just fall away.

Yes, it takes direct experience for many - which was the case for me (I’d most likely still be an agnostic had I not had my profound experiences) - but when you do have them, and you realize they’re not “demonic tricks” or some such garbage, you start to accept that the Universe really is far more amazing and inexplicable then you could *ever* imagine.  And that “god” is basically a meaningless word because WE ARE ALL “god” - or whatever you want to call it.  An unbroken whole.

> Unfortunately, the nihilists still assume that one must fully identify and prove God before giving any credibility to the evidence supporting survival, and since God is apparently beyond human comprehension they never get to the real evidence.

See previous point.  Once we can convince nihilists and dogmatic atheists that “god” isn’t the “God of Christianity”, then I think we could make headway.

> The research and studies suggest a much more dynamic afterlife, one that gives meaning to this life while providing that moral compass.

Exactly!  I’ve said it more than once to some folks - who thought my worldview (“afterlife view”) was full of some kind of “moral relativism”, or that it let people off easy because there wasn’t some of Divine Punishment - that, actually, I think my view is actually tougher, in a sense.  Because in my (our) view, there really is no “getting off easy” at all.  There are no “deathbed conversions” and no “God” who will grant you safe passage after a life time of “sin”.

In short, you’ve either done THE WORK or you haven’t.  And where you go after you pass on, and how quickly you progress, seems to be more of a “mechanical process” (if I can use that analogy) then something at the mercy of the whims of a Supreme Deity.

(The only thing that “distresses” my brain now is wondering, “How/where Something Came From Nothing?” and “Who/what put this ‘mechanical process’ into effect?”  Why does there appear to be a “hierarchy”?  And “rules”?  Who’s the “rule maker”?  Is there a Supreme Rule Maker or is it some kind of consensus situation?  Does anyone “up there” have any answers?  Are we all - all of us souls - condemned (and I don’t use that word lightly) to never having any answers but having to spend Eternity evolving and learning - and wondering what it all means??)

> I lament the fact that the secular students have been kept from this knowledge by both religion and science

It truly is a sin ... pun intended.

Thank you again.

Ron, Mon 25 Oct, 18:48

As others have said, Michael, this is one of your best. Thank you for it.

Stafford Betty, Mon 25 Oct, 18:41

It certainly is true that the existence of an afterlife is seemingly not dependent on there being an anthropomorphic or any other, deistic, God.

Accordingly, some sort of spiritual belief system centered on belief in an afterlife and a moral order and probably reincarnation can be firmly based solely on the great body of empirical evidence for the afterlife. This can most importantly fend off nihilism and all its bad effects.

However, there is also a large corpus of strong logical and philosophical arguments for the existence of God, arguments that are very strong to unbiased logicians and philosophers and also to those with great respect for the findings of science.

The development of modern science has uncovered many strong scientific and logical arguments for the absolutely necessary existence of a superintelligent Creator of some sort.


It starts with what is sometimes called the rationalist proof. This was championed by the brilliant mathematician Leibniz several hundred years ago. This is the notion that everything that exists necessarily has some explanation for why it exists the way it does. That is, that things don’t exist for no reason. 

This is the realization that everything that exists necessarily has some explanation for why it exists, and exists the way it does. That is, that things don’t exist for no reason. That doesn’t mean that we can know the reasons, the reasons may be obscure. But it doesn’t make any sense to say that something exists and there is no reason for it.

And that implies that there is an ultimate explanation that must be outside of nature and is in itself not in need of explanation. And that is God.

There are many basic questions that can be asked of atheists. The first question is, did everything come from nothing for no reason? That is, “Well, why is there anything? Why is this whole shebang here? And where did it come from?” Can it possibly be really the case that there is no reason for anything and it came from nothing?

This leads to the big scientific questions:

There is very strong scientific evidence for an absolute beginning of our universe approximately 14 billion years ago in a singularity, at the Big Bang. What caused the Big Bang? Where did the Big Bang come from? What caused the laws of nature? If you look at quantum mechanics, the incredible mathematical structure of quantum mechanics, of general relativity, of physics in general, where did all those laws come from? Those laws existed before there were even human beings on earth.

Something, a very big something, especially a very big something with a very high degree of intricate organization, can not come from absolutely nothing, realizing that absolutely nothing means not just an empty space-time, but no space, no time, no energy, no matter, no physical laws. Again, absolutely nothing, which has absolutely no causal efficacy.

So some sort of mind must have created this, created this intricate complex highly organized design, with its very fine “tuning” to conditions that allow the existence of life. Where did they come from? How did laws just happen? How did physical existence, and even the immaterial existence of mathematics and logic, come to be?

This reasoning then leads to the inevitable logical deduction that there must be a superintelligent Source outside the physical universe ultimately responsible for the universe and our existence.

This of course doesn’t mean that there must be an anthropomorphic God of the Old Testament or any other particular religious tradition. Great figures in science have believed in this, in particular Einstein.

David Magnan, Mon 25 Oct, 18:36

Here is where physical mediumship would be of great assistance, were it not apparently a dying phenomenon, or at least an increasingly hidden one. The stranglehold of materialism/hedonism on the modern mind is decisively broken by manifestations of physical mediumship as experienced by Leslie Kean or credibly described in Michael’s work. As he has repeatedly explained, such “signs and wonders” clear a path for fuller, deeper understandings of the nature of this life and the next, while pointing to a God far beyond the caricature popularized by degenerated forms of religion. Will NDEs now step in to help pull off this essential, desperately-needed mental liberation and spiritual expansion? I was struck by Dr. Greyson’s summation of what most NDErs came back with—a sudden and lasting realization that this life and the next, including that being of light they sometimes encountered, were “much bigger” than what they had been taught in church. It reminded me of the title of a book (“Your God Is Too Small”) written by a liberal Anglican priest and NT translator (J.B. Phillips) back when I was a young man, back when the voice of liberal Christianity was again asserting itself, as it’s now doing again on a variety of websites. If only this liberal Christianity and progressive forms of other world religions would grab with both hands the kind of spiritualism discussed on this blog…and vice versa. Powerful currents are out there, I strongly sense, crying out to coalesce into a world-changing, world-lifting tidal wave.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 25 Oct, 17:37

Does your eloquence & insight know no bounds, Michael? The wise old bird of Hawaii ! Who else?
One of your best.

Keith P in England, Mon 25 Oct, 17:33

Another great article, Michael. I recently came across a video by the former atheist Howard Storm who became a Christian minister after his NDE. While in hell, he called out to Jesus and was rescued from hell. I highly recommend everyone view this 32 minute video. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diPhrDPH8U8
It is fantastic.

Kevin Williams
http://www.near-death.com

Kevin Williams, Mon 25 Oct, 16:36

Having read Robert Monroe’s books, Tom Campbell, Bruce Moen, and so many other testimonies from scientists and others, the personal proof of afterlife survival is beyond doubt.

The Internet has brought so much research into the open and what was esoteric is now provable. Try it and see for yourself 💕

Lynne, Mon 25 Oct, 15:25

A wonderful thought-provoking post Michael.

Wendy Zammit, Mon 25 Oct, 10:01


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After Death: Private Dowding in the Wilderness by Wellesley Tudor Pole – In the introduction to "Private Dowding:The personal story of a soldier killed in battle, Wellesley Tudor Pole wrote: On Monday, 12th March 1917, I was walking by the sea when I felt the presence of someone. I looked round, no one was in sight. All that day I felt as if someone were following me, trying to reach my thoughts. Suddenly I said to myself, 'It is a soldier. He has been killed in battle and wants to communicate.' Read here
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